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Barbara Wright (translator)

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Barbara Wright (translator)

Barbara Wright (13 October 1915 – March 3, 2009[1]) was an English translator of modern French literature.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Translations 3
  • External links 4
  • References 5

Early life and education

Wright, born in Worthing, orphaned in 1930, went to the Godolphin School in Salisbury and studied music at the Conservatoire with Alfred Cortot and art in Paris in the years before World War II.


Wright began her career as a pianist[2] specialising in the accompaniment of Lieder, supporting herself by working as an art and literary critic, often needing to translate the works that she was writing about herself. As time went on she devoted more and more of her time to translation.

She specialised in "poetic prose" and drama, especially French surrealist and existential writing, but she translated works in several genres including women's literature, historical fiction, and fantasy. In 1986 she was made a Commandeur in L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In April 2001 she was made a member of the College of Pataphysics, as Régente de Zozologie Shakespearienne, with Fernando Arrabal and Umberto Eco (cacopédiste) as company. She was vibrant and lucid to the very end.

Her literary translation papers are held by the Lilly Library at Indiana University (Bloomington). The files are arranged alphabetically with publisher correspondence and French author–translation queries and notes all in a single alphabet. The authors she has translated and who are represented in the collection include Jean Hamburger (Le Journal de William Harvey), Eugène Ionesco, Alfred Jarry, Pierre Lauer, Robert Pinget,[3] Raymond Queneau, Nathalie Sarraute and Stefan Themerson. The publishers of Wright's works, with whom there are extensive correspondence files, include the Gaberbocchus Press, John Calder, Doubleday, Faber & Faber, New Directions, the Atlas Press and Red Dust. Also present is a large file of correspondence between Wright and Russell Fitzgerald, an aspiring author and devoted fan of her work from San Francisco, California.


from Renouard & Kelly below.

Stefan Themerson & Franciszka Themerson: (translated from Polish with Stefan Themerson) Mr Rouse Builds His House. 1950

Alfred Jarry: Ubu Roi (illustrated by Franciszka Themerson). 1951.

Raymond Queneau: The Trojan Horse; At the Edge of the forest. 1954.

Christian Dietrich Grabbe: Comedy, Satire. Irony and Deeper Meaning (translation from German, illustrated by Franciszka Themerson). 1955.

Pol-Dives: The Song of Bright Misery. 1955.

Raymond Queneau: Exercises in Style. 1958.

Raymond Queneau: Zazie in the Metro. 1960.

Monique Lange: The Catfish in New Writers 1. 1960.

Fernando Arrabal: Orison; The Two Executioners; Fernando and Lis; The Car Cemetery in Plays. vol. 1 1962.

Andrée Martinerie: Second Spring. 1962.

Alain Robbe-Grillet: Snapshots and Towards a New Novel. 1965.

Marguerite Duras: The Long Absence. 1966.

Raymond Queneau: Between Blue and Blue. 1967.

Fernando Arrabal: Guernica; The Labyrinth; The Tricycle; Picnic on the Battlefield; The Condemned Man's Tricycle in Plays. vol. 2. 1967.

Raymond Queneau: A Blue Funk and Dino in French Writing Today. 1968.

Alain Robbe-Grillet: In the Corridors of the Underground in French Writing Today. 1968.

Raymond Queneau: The Bark Tree. 1968.

Alain Robbe-Grillet: The Secret Room in The Penguin Book of French Short Stories. 1968.

André Couteaux: Portrait of the Boy as a Young Wolf/My Father's Keeper. 1968.

Alfred Jarry: The Supermale. 1968.

Roland Dubillard: The Swallows. 1969

Roland Dubillard: The House of Bones. 1971.

Jean Genet: The Balcony. 1971.

Pierre Lauer: The Suns of Badarane. 1971.

Robert Pinget: The Libera Me Domine. 1972

Raymond Queneau: The Flight of Icarus. 1973.

Yves Klein: Selected Writings. (in part). 1974

Robert Pinget: Recurrent Melody. 1975.

Ludovic Janvier: The Bathing Girl (revision of translation by John Matthew). 1976

Raymond Queneau: The Sunday of Life. 1976.

Sylvia Bourdon: Love is a Feast. 1977.

Tristan Tzara: Seven Dada Manifestoes and Lampisteries. 1977.

Robert Pinget: Passacaglia. 1978.

Roland Topor: Leonardo Was Right. 1978

Herbert Le Porrier: The Doctor From Cordoba. 1979.

Simone Benmussa: The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs. 1979

Robert Pinget: Fable. 1980.

Nathalie Sarraute: It is There and other plays. 1980

Simone Benmussa: 'Appearances' in Gambit No. 35. 1980

Muriel Cerf: 'Blitz-Fortune' in Real Life - Writers from Nine Countries Illuminate the Life of the Modern Woman. 1981

Raymond Queneau: We Always Treat Women Too Well. 1981

Robert Pinget: Between Fantoine and Agapa. 1982.

Robert Pinget: That Voice. 1982.

Nathalie Sarraute: The Use of Speech. 1982

Nathalie Sarraute: Childhood. 1983

Romain Gary: King Solomon. 1983

Michel Tournier: The Fetishist and Other Stories. 1983

Robert Pinget: Someone. 1984.

Henri Guigonnat: Daemon in Lithuania. 1985

Eugène Ionesco: Journeys Among the Dead. 1985

René de Obaldia: Monsieur Klebs and Rosalie in Plays Vol. 4. 1985

Michel Tournier: A Garden at Hammamet. 1986

Robert Pinget: The Apocrypha. 1986.

Pierre Albert-Birot: The First Book of Grabinoulor.1986

Robert Pinget: Abel and Bela.. 1987.

Michel Tournier: 'The Golden Droplet. 1987

Raymond Queneau: Pierrot Mon Ami. 1987.

Robert Pinget: Monsieur Songe with The Harness, Plough. 1988.

Robert Pinget: A Bizarre Will. 1989.

Elisabeth Badinter: The Unopposite Sex [Man/Woman: The One is the Other]. 1989

Raymond Queneau: The Last Days. 1990.

Raymond Queneau: Alfred in Journal of Literary Translation. vol. XXIII. 1990

Liliane Siegel: In the Shadow of Sartre. 1990

Nathalie Sarrraute: You Don't Love Yourself. 1990

Robert Pinget: The Enemy. 1991.

Michel Tournier: Totems. 1991

Michel Tournier: The Midnight Love Feast. 1991

Pascal Quignard: Georges de La Tour. 1991

Jean Genet: The Balcony. 1991

Patrick Modiano: Honeymoon. 1992

Jean Hamburger: The Diary of William Harvey. 1992

Robert Pinget: Be Brave. 1994.

Robert Pinget: Theo, or The New Era. 1994.

Alberto Giacometti: The Dream, The Sphinx and The Death of T. in Grand Street in Space No. 54. 1995

Coline Serrau: Lapin, Lapin. 1995

Samuel Beckett: Eleutheria. 1996

Jean Rouaud: Of Illustrious Men. 1996

Nathalie Sarraute: Here. 1997

Jean Rouaud: The World, More or Less. 1997

Stefan Themerson: Fragments From Darkness. 1998

Robert Pinget: Traces of Ink. 1998.

Aude Yung-de Prévaud: Jacques & Lotha. 2000

Simone Benmussa: Three Plays. (The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, Appearance and The Death of Ivan Illich) in collaboration with Donald Watson 2000

Raymond Queneau: Five Stories: Panic; Dino; At the Edge of the Forest; A Blue Funk; The Trojan Horse. 2000.

Pierre Albert-Birot: 31 Pocket Poems. 2003

Raymond Queneau: Introduction and comments with extracts from Zazie, Pierrot, and The Flight of Icarus, in "Tolling Elves 5" February 2003 to celebrate Queneau's centenary.

Robert Pinget: Trio (Between Fatoine and Agapa, That Voice, Passacaglia). 2005.

publication of script for radio adaptation of Exercises in Style broadcast on 25 December 1959 by the B.B.C. with introduction by Barbara Wright. 2006.

Robert Pinget: Film script: 15 Rue des Lilas. in Renouard & Kelly. 2013

Also various plays, libretti (three by Mozart), artists' manifestos, composers' programme notes, introductions, forewords and postscripts.

External links

  • Works by or about Barbara Wright in libraries (WorldCat catalog)


  1. ^ "Barbara Wright Leading light in the translation of modern French literature". The Guardian, John Calder, 7 May 2009
  2. ^ Debra Kelly; Madeleine Renouard (1 August 2013). Barbara Wright: Translation as Art. Dalkey Archive Press. pp. 5–.  
  3. ^ "Barbara Wright: Translator of French literature who adapted Ionesco, Jarry and Genet". The Independent. 24 April 2009

Barbara Wright: Translation as Art. edited by Madeleine Renouard and Debra Kelly. Dalkey Archive Press. 2013

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